2019-03-02 The need to relax

Joe Bush wrote Deep vs. Wise and in it he talks about his frustration with how he handles his hobbies and how he is unhappy about himself.

I pick up new things pretty easily, but I put them down just as easily. Rarely do I dive super deep on a given subject, nor do I ever really attain mastery at anything.

– Joe Bush

I can relate. I tried to learn Arabic for four years with a private tutor. I spent at least two years trying to learn Japanese on my own. I’ve tried to learn playing the flute (the alto recorder). I’ve tried to learn to draw using a brush and ink, using a dip pen, and using an app.

I’m also a 1st Dan Aikidoka but I’m too lazy to practice for 2nd Dan. I’m a hobby programmer but I don’t want to tackle any big projects. I used to read voraciously but I just don’t make the time any more.

I can relate to Joe Bush’s plight.

I a recent conversation with Chris we agreed that we’re all 60% or 80% people. the exact percentage doesn’t matter. The important thing is that our hobbies take us only so far. They never take us to the top. My French teacher in Bangkok used to say: “Les cimes!” Aim for the peak!

Our culture tries to push us to the top. Struggle! Practice! And increasingly: Monetize! Hustle! But I don’t want to. This is not Otium (Muße in German). This is not leisure time in which to play, rest, and contemplate. Thus, I tried to get away from this mindset. I tried to look at it from the other direction: If I don’t read, then obviously I no longer enjoy reading as I feel I should. If I don’t practice Aikido or Japanese, then obviously I don’t feel as strongly about them as I feel I should.

And thus the truth is revealed: it is this image of myself that I need to get rid of. I need to face the truth and learn to love it, and to love me as I am: an eternal dabbler, a playful, curious, loving mammal. Mastery is not for me. Yearlong dedication is not for me. Laser focus is not for me.

I think it would be healthier to just get the respect of ten people for a thing you do. Ten people like my Aikido, even though I feel like I should do more. Ten people like my podcast even though I could polish it more. Ten people like my drawings even though I should draw more.

Learn to love things as they are.



Lovely musings. It reminds me: a few years ago when I was making my living doing a bunch of things (acting, directing, teaching yoga, PHP programming, web guru-ing) I started referring to myself as a “professional dilettante”. I was not an adept or master of any of the things I was doing to make my living, but I was good enough at each of them that they could each form a piece of the puzzle that was my livelihood. I remember it was frustrating at first not be a “the person who does [this]” and know that I was a master of that one thing. But eventually I came to enjoy the breadth.

acodispo 2019-03-03 14:51 UTC

Yes! 🙂

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-03 14:58 UTC

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